In her own liner notes to this disc, Sally Beamish writes that it 'represents the beginning of my journey into orchestral music'. Symphony No.1, from 1992, is in fact the very first work Beamish composed for large orchestra, for a commission she describes as 'the most extraordinary gift, and a terrifying undertaking: I was journeying into the unknown, which is reflected in some unusual choices in instrumentation - very low timpani writing, for instance, like footsteps on a wooden floor.' The piece combines elements of the traditional music of the Scottish bagpipe with an instrumental 'setting' of Psalm 104, praising the majesty of creation. In Beamish's own words the symphony represents 'a celebration of the beauty of Scotland, and the inspiration, both musical and visual, which I have found here.' Two years later Beamish was commissioned to write a concerto for the violinist Anthony Marwood, and from him received a copy of the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. The three movements of the concerto can be traced to three particular passages in the book, and are influenced by the composer's 'deep-rooted sense of the futility and tragedy of war'. The flute concerto 'Callisto' is a later work, from 2005, which on the present recording is also performed by the soloist it was composed for, Sharon Bezaly. Having been inspired by a retelling of the myth from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Beamish describes the work as 'a mini-opera, with the leading roles - Jove, Diana, the nymph Callisto - taken by various instruments'. In the course of the work, the soloist is required to play all four members of the flute family: from bass flute to piccolo. This is the sixth disc on BIS dedicated to the music of Sally Beamish, music which in reviews of previous recordings has been described as 'personal and sensual' (in the German magazine Fono Forum), 'beautiful . colourfully orchestrated and full of poetic moments' (in American Record Guide), and 'striking compositions [which] combine lyricism and drama with clarity of form' (in Gramophone).
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